Summer is rapidly approaching, and despite the easing of COVID-19 restrictions as more and more of the population receive their vaccinations, many restrictions are still locked in place across the nation. A possible solution for those who have been dying to see the world around them — but are still wary of the virus that has caused such pandemonium — is a road trip, to explore the beauty of this country we call home.
Perks of a Road Trip
As Emma Lavelle’s Wise Traveler article “The Benefits of Travelling in Your Own Country” outlines, there are many perks of taking road trips in one’s own country. Namely, traveling in your own country allows you to reduce your carbon footprint, see your country with a set of new and fresh eyes, learn more about your heritage and your country’s history and yes, save money.
As BEIS/Defra Greenhouse Gas Conversion Factors 2019 data shows, in terms of CO2 emissions per passenger per kilometer traveled, a domestic flight emits 133 grams of CO2 and a long-haul flight emits 102 grams of CO2. In comparison, a car with four passengers emits 43 grams of CO2 and a domestic rail emits 41 grams of CO2. Road trips, then, with more than one passenger, greatly aid in limiting your travel carbon footprint.
In addition to serving an environmental purpose, road trips can enhance the way we see our country. PBS’ article “The American Road Trip” notes road trips have a deep-rooted history that started to expand post-World War II as a “result of postwar prosperity, mass consumption, paid vacation leaves and the development of the new interstate highway system.” These road trips became a way for adults and children alike to learn more about their country’s history by “visiting national parks and monuments,” as well as a way for Americans to “strengthen family bonds.”
Since their expanded popularity post-WWII, we have seen the continued success of the road trip with the hippie movement of the ‘60s and ‘70s and the popularity of 21st century van-life; road trips remain a popular travel choice for suburban, rural and city-dwelling Americans everywhere.
2021 and COVID-related travel fears of going abroad have only enhanced road trips’ popularity. As Laurie Baratti’s Travel Pulse article details, Americans’ 2021 summer getaways are “largely going to be of the domestic variety, with an estimated 48 percent of insured trips being booked within the US” compared to last year’s 19%.
These numbers match what the Dyrt (a Trip Advisor of sorts for campsites) study found as well: “91% of campgrounds are expecting more campers than last year.” As the Outdoor Foundation’s Outdoor Participation Report notes, that’s “on top of the 28% more Americans who went camping last year in 2020 (vs. 2019).”
In sum, then, it’s clear that in light of the pandemic, many travelers are opting for in-country travels, packing up their cars, RVs and vans for adventure — hiking, camping and the exploration of their own country’s “great backyard.”
Finally, it comes as no surprise that road trips within the country’s borders are much more affordable than out-of-country travel — plane tickets being a huge reason why. In addition to saving money by opting out of plane tickets, an abundance of experienced road trippers, like Nomadic Matt and blogger Katie Diederichs, share tips on how to save money while traveling the country.
Where to Travel?
The United States is filled with jaw-dropping sights, and whether you’re a mountain lover, ocean devotee, city fanatic or National Park junkie, there’s a U.S. road trip that will leave you in utter awe.
With its deserts, cacti, arches and canyons, the Southwest is a popular road trip destination for millions of Americans and out-of-country travelers alike. The travel blog “On the Luce” details a two-week itinerary of this popular spot, starting in Las Vegas and traversing to Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Antelope Canyon and Monument Valley, Arches National Park, Moab, Mesa Verde National Park, Santa Fe, Sedona and of course, the Grand Canyon.
With this trip, you get a little bit of everything, from national parks to charming Southwest cities with some of the best cuisine in the country.
The West Coast
Undeniably, the West Coast, with its beaches and out-of-this-world vegetation, draws an avid traveler base. The Broke Backpacker details an epic West Coast trip in a mere 10 days that starts in San Diego and ends in Seattle. From the star cities of San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco to the hidden nature wonderlands like the Redwoods, the Oregon Coast and the charming Olympic National Park, this trip, like the Southwest, will win over national park and city lovers alike.
Finally, it would be amiss to fail to mention the charming and unique Northeast. Disha Discovers, a popular travel blogger, highlights a perfect itinerary that, once again, encompasses city and nature alike. After starting in Boston, road trippers would travel to the charming cities of Providence and Newport, Rhode Island. Next up is Mystic and Litchfield, Connecticut; Vermont is next on the list, with stops in Montpelier and Stowe. She then details a stop in White Mountain National Forest, followed by the beloved Acadia National Park and Portland, Maine.
Despite the cooler temperatures, the Northeast is a unique nature haven that campers and hikers flock to religiously.
Clearly, the three aforementioned road trips only grace the tip of the iceberg. The United States is home to charming cities and abundant nature with unique and rich cultures, landscapes and groups of people. We often forget that our home base is uniquely beautiful and worth our exploration. In times like this though, in the aftermath of a pandemic, it is more important than ever to appreciate the beauty around us.
By taking a road trip, whether near or far to the geographical location that we call “home,” we can enhance our connection to this beautiful country and our own great backyard — the United States.